Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Blue Apron: Part 1

Ever since I went back to work after maternity leave, it has been tricky trying to find my groove in terms of food shopping and making dinner during the week. My mom and my mother-in-law watch our daughter during the week, and we've fallen into the very easy habit of eating dinner at their respective houses during the week. Although easy, and incredibly kind of both moms to cook dinner the days that they also watch the baby, it was not fair on them, and quite frankly, I think Mike and I both missed spending any sort of real time at home.

So after weeks (and weeks) of trying to get into a habit of weekly grocery shopping and making dinner at home (and failing), my husband came up with a great idea: Blue Apron.

The concept is simple, $60 per week, and you receive three meals (in ingredient form) right to your door. This is very convenient for several reasons. I LOVE to cook, but I do not enjoy trying to figure out what to make, and then figuring out when I will go grocery shopping. Since I struggle mostly with being creative and figuring out what to make (Pinterest never helps!), the idea that someone has ALREADY figured it out, and sent me all the ingredients necessary (even if one of those ingredients is a tablespoon of butter!) is wonderful. For a busy mom like me, this is a dream.

I've read several Blue Apron reviews on other food bloggers, and a common complaint is the cost. My husband and I are used to very high quality food, whether we're talking about fish, meat, or fresh produce, so the idea of paying $60 for three meals for two, which can be broken down to about $10 per person, is absolutely normal. We eat out once a week, and typically go to nice, high-end restaurants where we know the food and wine is of high quality, so this price does work for us.

The recipes come in gorgeous, color-printed cards that I am keeping all together in a binder for future recipe. Easy step-by-step instructions (with further, more detailed instructional videos available on their website if needed) provide ease of mind for those unfamiliar with uncomfortable with food prep or cooking, in general (though not our case).

Another issue many people have with the service is the portion size. I eat like a bird, but my husband, the red-blooded Italian, is used to making four side dishes to accompany two proteins when cooking dinner for just the two of us. Accordingly, he is capable of ordering several appetizers to accompany his one (sometimes two!) entrees when we dine out. So, having said all that, I did have a slight panic attack when I opened the first Blue Apron box and discovered a 10 oz packet of ground beef for a meatball stew. I wouldn't buy less than 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef if I were to make meatballs for the two of us! However, this recipe proved me wrong. Perhaps because it was a stew, but this dish made enough for our dinner (including Mike's second and third helpings) as well as my lunch for work the next day.

Not all meals are the same ... the next night, we had half a roasted chicken served over collard greens. The collard greens cooked down to a laughably tiny portion, better suited for one person only. The half chicken, since it was not a breast, had very little meat, and was absolutely not enough for even one person. I steamed a bag of frozen corn to accompany the meal, because without it, the platter seemed tiny! This recipe was not my favorite, although I was impressed with my cooking of the chicken - this was the one step that made me nervous all week, as I typically only cook chicken breasts. I was terrified of undercooking the meat, but it came out great, with a nice crust from browning the skin in a skillet first.

That's another benefit that I've found by using this service. It pushes (forces me, actually) to make dishes that I never would otherwise. I would never have roasted half a chicken, or made kimchi (this is an upcoming receipt from the box we just received last night). I love that pretty much anything can come in the boxes (the only item I checked to NOT receive was lamb), and I will have to make it. It makes it fun for me, to have the decision-making process removed.

And now for the good part ... the finished products!

First Night - Salmon Bucatini

Second Night - Italian Meatball Soup

Third Night - Spice Roasted Chicken With Collard Greens